In the previous article, we've discussed the basics of computer hardware and its components. Now, we will focus on another important aspect of computer systems – software.

We all use computers for different tasks, such as browsing the internet, writing documents, playing games, managing finances, and we should know how software makes all of these tasks possible. Especially if you are eager to learn more advanced computer skills such as programming or system administration.

In this article, we'll discuss the definition of computer software and what types of computer software are available for different tasks. We will also dive in into the different types of operating systems and how they function within a computer. Additionally, we will cover the difference between 32-bit systems and 64-bit systems and what this means.

Software and System Programs

Software refers to a set of instructions and programs that tell the computer what to do. In other words, software is a collection of instructions that passed to the computer's hardware to perform specific tasks and functions. Without software, a computer would be useless, since it can't perform any task by itself.

There are two main types of computer software:

  1. System Software
  2. Application Software

Let's talk about each one in more details:

System Software

System software is the software that provides essential functions for the operation of a computer system, such as device drivers, firmware, and BIOS. These programs are necessary to make hardware devices function properly, and they provide a platform for running other software.

System software also includes the operating system (OS), which is responsible for managing and allocating computer resources, such as CPU, memory, and input/output devices. The OS also provides a graphical user interface (GUI) or command-line interface (CLI for short) that allows users to interact with the computer and run various software applications.

Application Software

This is the software that allows users to perform specific tasks or applications such as document processing, image and video editing, gaming, web browsing, writing code, creating games, etc.

Application software is the most commonly used type of software, as it includes programs that we interact within our daily lives. Some popular examples of application software are Photoshop, Instagram app, Minecraft, Microsoft Office Suite, and others.

Male editing video behind the computer

All the software is written by programmers using various programming languages. Some commonly used programming languages are C, C++, C#, Java, Kotlin, Python, JavaScript, PHP, and Swift. We'll discuss programming languages in the next article of this series, but for now, it's important to understand that programming languages are used to write code and create software programs.

In summary, computer software is the collection of instructions written by programmers that tell the computer what to do; it consists of system software and application software.

Operating Systems

An operating system (OS) is like the captain of a ship. It controls and manages all the different parts of a computer, like the steering wheel, the engine, and the lights. It also provides a way for people to talk to the computer and run programs, like sending messages or taking pictures.

So, just like the captain of a ship, the OS helps the computer run smoothly and safely, making sure everything works together the way it should.

The most well-known operating systems include Windows, macOS, and Linux, but there are many other operating systems available as well, including Android, iOS, Chrome OS, Ubuntu, Fedora and more.

Popular Operating system brands

The primary purpose of an operating system is to control and manage the hardware resources of a computer, such as the CPU, memory, and storage devices. It provides a user interface that allows users to interact with the computer and run software applications.

If you want to read more about the CPU, GPU, RAM and other hardware components, browse through the previous article in this series that is called “The Basics of Computers”.


Windows is a very popular operating system today, and it's developed and sold by Microsoft company. It has been around since 1985 and has evolved through many versions. Windows is known for its user-friendly interface, which includes a start menu and taskbar.

Screenshot of the Windows 11 operating system
Screenshot of the Windows 11 operating system

Windows is known for its compatibility with a vast range of games and programs because most of all the games are designed to run on Windows. If you are a gamer, Windows is the best operating system for your needs.

One of the disadvantages of Windows is that it requires plenty of computer resources, and therefore, can run slowly on older or less powerful computers. But, there are many ways to optimize and enhance the performance of a Windows computer, from uninstalling unused programs to disabling unnecessary startup services.


Linux is the most used operating system in the world, which dominates the server and supercomputer markets due to its reliability, power, and flexibility.

However, Linux is less commonly used on personal computers due to its somewhat steep learning curve and the fact that it may not be as user-friendly for non-technical users. Additionally, since many popular software applications are not created with Linux in mind, users may find limited compatibility with their favorite programs.

Linux is an OS kernel that was developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991 as a free and open-source software solution. It's not a typical desktop OS that you might think of, like Windows or macOS. Rather, Linux is often used as the underlying operating system for other software applications and systems.

For example, Android, which is widely used on smartphones and tablets, is based on the Linux kernel. Ubuntu and Fedora are also Linux-based operating systems that are designed for personal computers and are known for their ease of use and user-friendly interfaces.

Screenshot of the Ubuntu 22.04 operating system
Screenshot of the Ubuntu 22.04 operating system

Operating systems written on top of the Linux kernel are called Linux-based distributions or Linux distros for short. There are numerous popular Linux-based distributions, including Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, CentOS, and Arch Linux. Each Linux distribution is unique in its own way and provides users with different features, desktop environments, and software applications.

Screenshot of the Debian operating system
Screenshot of the Debian operating system

Since Linux is used for almost all the servers in the world, it has gained a reputation as being one of the most reliable and secure operating systems available today. This is one of the reasons why Linux is typically preferred by businesses for their servers and other critical systems.

I've used Linux Ubuntu myself for about 5 years and I must say that it's been a positive experience overall. In my opinion, it's one of the best choices for software developers due to its flexibility, command-line interface, and the ease of using package managers like APT and Snap.

The main advantage of using Linux is its open-source nature, which means that it is completely free to use and modify. This makes Linux an attractive option for individuals and organizations who want to avoid licensing fees associated with other operating systems like Windows.


macOS is the operating system designed and developed by Apple Inc. for their Macintosh line of computers in 2001.

Screenshot of the Mac OS X Server 1.0. The first version of macOS
Screenshot of the Mac OS X Server 1.0. The first version of macOS

It was a big leap forward in terms of design and user experience, offering a sleek and intuitive interface that has remained largely consistent over the years.

Nowadays, macOS is definitely one of the most popular operating systems available, known for its stability, user-friendly interface and optimized performance on Apple hardware.

The screenshot of macOS Ventura operating system
The screenshot of macOS Ventura operating system

One of the biggest benefits of using macOS is its seamless integration with other Apple devices like iPhones, iPads, and AirPods. This integration allows users to easily sync their data and files across all their devices, making life easy for people who work in an Apple ecosystem.

If you are currently using Linux and want to move to macOS, you can read the article on “Moving from Linux to macOS as a programmer”. That will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of differences and similarities between the two operating systems.

How software works

When it comes to how software works, it can vary depending on the type of software and its intended purpose. When we mention programs like text-editors, web browsers, or media players, they all have a user interface (UI) that allows the user to interact with it.

The UI typically consists of menus, buttons, and other interactive elements that allow the user to perform specific tasks.

Active software program with simple UI
Active software program with simple UI

Software is a set of instructions that tell a computer what to do. It consists of programs and data that are stored on the computer's storage devices. When a user runs a program, the computer's CPU reads the instructions from the program and performs the requested operations.

Software is much more than just programs on your computer. It also includes mobile apps, video games, databases, websites, and other digital content. So, when you look at your smartwatch, just remember that there is software running behind the scenes, making it all possible!

The software interacts with the computer hardware by sending and receiving signals through output and input devices such as mice, keyboards, buttons, and touch screen. These signals allow the user to interact with the software and for the software to display information on the screen or perform tasks based on user input.

Computer programs are written in programming languages such as Java, Python, and C++. Programmers write code using text editors or integrated development environments (IDEs), which are software applications designed for coding. The code is then saved in files, which can be compiled into machine code.

This is an example of code written with high-level programming language:

def sum_numbers(num1, num2):
    return num1 + num2
print(sum_numbers(1, 2))

You can read more about machine code and programming languages in the next article “The basics of programming”.

32-bit systems and 64-bit systems

When we talk about 32-bit and 64-bit systems, we're really talking about the type of computer that we're using.

A 32-bit computer can handle numbers and memory up to a certain size, while a 64-bit computer can handle much bigger numbers and memory. Think of it like a car that can only fit a certain number of people versus a bigger car that can fit more people.

A 64-bit computer can do things faster and better than a 32-bit computer because it can handle bigger and more complex tasks. But not all programs are made to work on 64-bit computers, so it's important to check if the program you want to use is compatible with your computer's architecture.

A “bit” is a tiny piece of information that a computer can understand. It's like the smallest building block that a computer can use to work with information. It can be either a 0 or 1.

Computers understand information in bits. It's like building blocks that computers use to work with information. A 64-bit computer has bigger building blocks than a 32-bit computer, which means it can do more things at once and faster because it can handle more information and memory. It's like having bigger Legos to build with – you can make bigger and cooler things!

I think it's fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we've ever created. They're tools of communication, they're tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates


Understanding the basics of computer hardware and software, including programming languages and computer architecture, can help you navigate the world of technology with greater ease.

Computer software is an essential aspect of computer systems, without which the computer would be useless. We've discussed the two main types of software, system, and application software, and how programming languages are used to write them.

Operating systems, which manage and control hardware resources, are also crucial to the functioning of a computer. The most common operating systems are Windows, macOS, and Linux, each with its advantages and disadvantages. While Windows is known for its user-friendly interface and gaming compatibility, Linux is known for its reliability and security, making it popular for servers and other critical systems.

If you have any questions or want to suggest topics for future blog posts, leave a comment below, and I would gladly discuss it with you.

Keywords: windows, program, linux, ubuntu, macos, gates, 64bit, 32bit, microsoft